Inventor of the Week Archive
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Heating, Air Conditioning and Ventilation
David Crosthwait, inventor and authority on heat transfer,
ventilation and air conditioning, was born in Nashville in 1898 and grew up
in Kansas City, Missouri. At that time, it was relatively rare for an African
American man to achieve an esteemed reputation in the sciences, yet that is
exactly what he did.
Crosthwait earned a B.S. from Purdue
University in 1913 and a masters degree in engineering in 1920. A few
years after he finished his degrees, he became Research Engineer, Director
of Research Laboratories for C.A.
Dunham Company, now Marshall Engineered Products Co., in Marshalltown,
Iowa, where he worked from 1925 to 1930.
During the 1920s and 30s, Crosthwait invented an improved boiler,
a new thermostat control and a new differential vacuum pump, all more effective
for the heating systems in larger buildings. He became very well-known for
coming up with innovative solutions to heating and ventilation problems, and
as such, Crosthwait was commissioned to design the heating system for Radio
City Music Hall in New York City.
Over the course of his career, Mr. Crosthwait received 39 U.S.
and 80 foreign patents relating to the design, installing, testing, and service
of HVAC power plants, heating, and ventilating systems. He also authored a
manual on heating and cooling with water and guides, standards, and codes
that dealt with heating, ventilation, refrigeration, and air conditioning
systems. In 1956 the C. A. Dunham Company and the Bush Manufacturing Company
merged to form the Dunham-Bush company. Crosthwait served as technical advisor
of Dunham-Bush from 1930 to 1971.
After retiring from industry in 1971, Mr. Crosthwait taught
a course on steam heating theory and control systems at Purdue University
during the 1970s. For his achievements, Mr. Crosthwait was awarded an Honorary
Doctorate from Purdue in 1975, he was named Fellow of the, AAAS,
and he served as a member of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating
and Air Conditioning Engineers, the American Chemical
Society, and the National Society of Professional